Switzerland-Based Dufour Surges to the Forefront of the Hybrid Drone Market

Hybrid drones that draw upon gas combustion and electric power propulsion are becoming more popular and visible in the global UAV market.  These drones combine the best of both worlds – increased sustainability and longer flight duration.  Typically they also accommodate heavier payload to perform a wider range of missions from business cargo delivery and topographical surveys to disaster relief and public safety.  Some of the larger hybrids are also being prepped to become passenger drones for dual civilian and military use.

A good example is the fleet of new hybrid prototypes being developed by Switzerland-based Dufour.  The company is introducing two tilt-wing VTOL aircraft, the Aero 2 unmanned drone and the Aero 3 passenger eVTOL.  Both prototypes are just now being flight tested, but the timetable for production is also being accelerated to meet the demands of the market.  In fact, deliveries of the Aero 2 drone could begin as early as 2025.

Spright, the drone division of Air Methods, a US-based provider of helicopter emergency medical services, has pre-purchased the first 40 Aero 2s, with options to buy an additional 100.  In addition, Spright has agreed to assist Dufour to obtain FAA type certification for the new aircraft, which will likely fast-track the agency’s regulatory approval and speed the new drone to market.

Aero 2’s carrying capacity is impressive.  It can transport nearly 90 lbs of critical cargo – for example medical goods – over a distance of more than 200 nautical miles.  With smaller payloads, it can travel a whopping 650 nautical miles.  The plane can travel continuously for nearly three hours, allowing middle-mile cargo deliveries throughout Europe and across the United States.

Dufour’s Aero 3 air taxi will take considerably longer to obtain FAA approval prior to beginning production.  It has the same tilt-wing design as the Aero 2 and the same flight duration of three hours.  It’s designed to carry 8 passengers, which exceeds the carrying capacity of most smaller air taxis, and with a cruising speed of 217 mph, is also faster.  The company hasn’t yet forecast a timetable for manufacture or commercialization of the Aero 3, but interest in the drone from civilian and military sources alike is growing fast.

In November 2023, Dufour signed a letter of intent with the Danish company Copenhagen Helicopter and its partner Copenhagen AirTaxi for a conditional order to purchase the Aero2 UAV for cargo and aerial work and the Aero3 for passenger transportation. Dufour and its Danish partners are setting their sights on operations in three countries – Norway, Sweden and Germany – in addition to Denmark.

“With Dufour’s 8-seater Aero3 electric hybrid aircraft, we want to build on this initiative and extend the possibilities to the remaining rural areas of Denmark, including many of its small islands, where constructing an airfield is either distant or not feasible.”  Henrik Bendix, co-founder of Copenhagen Helicopter, told the magazine SUAS News.  “Our goal is to create affordable and swift connectivity that is accessible to all,” he added.

Another company, European Medical Drone (EMD), based in Sweden, recently agreed to purchase 11 Aero 2s to augment or replace the use of piloted helicopters to support its medical supply deliveries.  A Swedish company, Savback Helicopters, has agreed to facilitate the transaction, which will allow European Medical Drone to enter the drone field for the first time, and enhance its commitment to safety and sustainability, a problem.

“Our mission is to facilitate sharing of vital resources among hospitals. Our system allows hospitals to request and receive essential supplies such as blood, medicines, and medical equipment.  As we have a focus on connecting hospitals which are several hundred kilometers apart, we need long-range, heavy-lift, uncrewed aircraft with a lot of redundancy for safety,” said Martin Braaen, EMD’s founder.

Historiclaly, Dufour’s prototype development has been fueled by major investments from Vista Global Holding Limited, the world’s leading global private aviation group.  Last January Vista and two other silent investors agreed to a new Series B investment round to support the prototype development of the Aero 2 and Aero 3.  Additional investments are expected this spring.

Thomas Flohr, Founder and Chairman, Vista said: “We are looking forward to supporting the team at Dufour in advancing their sustainable aviation solutions with huge potential to supplement Vista’s global service network in the future. It is an exciting time for Dufour, and this investment is in line with our strategy of supporting environmental air mobility solutions which further reiterates our commitment to ensuring a greener future for our industry.”

ABOUT US: DroneVideos.com is a Nationwide Media Company specializing in custom Drone Videos for real estate, commercial, farms, construction, golf courses, roof inspections and more. All of our Drone Operators are fully licensed and insured. When you purchase a Drone Video Package from us, you will receive a video professionally edited, color corrected and presented to you on an SEO-Friendly webpage that you can easily share online and on Social Media with a click of a button. Click here to get started.
Start Your Order
We Offer a Variety of Drone Video Packages
to Fit Your Needs and Budget